Jenny Ryan, who found fame as a quiz master on popular show The Chase and has been wowing audiences with her recent performances on The X Factor: Celebrity, has revealed her battle with depression.

The 37-year-old, whose persona as The Vixen on The Chase makes her seem intimidating, says she thought her brain was "broken" following a frightening episode during her university studies.

"I'd always been the genius of the family. Teachers said I'd definitely go to a top university and could do anything, even be Prime Minister," she told The Mirror.

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"Suddenly, things got harder. I used to enjoy doing homework but stopped trying and felt drained. Anxiety started to build and I didn't understand what was going on.

"One day at uni it crystallised into something physical and I had an urgent need to go home. On my way to the train station I felt like I had a fish bowl on my head, as if I wasn't part of the same world as everyone else.

Ryan says singing helps her depression and anxiety because it releases endorphins. Photo / Getty Images
Ryan says singing helps her depression and anxiety because it releases endorphins. Photo / Getty Images

"Back home I sat on my parents' sofa and felt a lack of reality. My brain couldn't process. I just flipped out. I thought - 'what's going on? Is my brain broken?'"

Ryan said she eventually sought medical advice and was old she likely had depression and had suffered an anxiety attack.

She said the diagnosis had helped her to understand she wasn't failing and that other people sometimes felt the same way.

Ryan, who is one of six acts remaining on the current season of The X-Factor: Celebrity, also revealed that singing in the competition had helped her to manage her mental health.

""Music really helps - singing is huge because it releases all the endorphins and gives me a real thrill," she said.

"But I still have bad days. It's about recognising when I might be spiralling into a dark place."


Elsewhere, Ryan recently took to Twitter and excitedly announced she would perform on the same stage as US music star Lizzo.

She wrote: "Actually crying real tears because I'll be walking the same stage as @lizzo on Saturday night. No joke, I'm dissolving a lot of mascara here."

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